Baruch ata YH*H Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Shelo Asani Isha.

Blessed are You, YH*H, Our God, King of the Universe, Who Did Not Make Me a Woman.

This line is found in Orthodox liturgies of the Bircat HaShachar, (Morning Blessings) that are recited first thing in the morning by the religious Jew. This particular blessing (or bracha) is unusual, though, as it is not recited by women. The corresponding women's bracha has the alternate ending "... She'asani Kirtzono" - "... Who Made Me According to His Will" after the standard opening for blessings.

A common explanation for this is that we are thanking God for the obligations of the mitzvot. Women (under Orthodox rulings) are exempted from certain mitzvot, and thus, we men should be glad of our extra obligations. This explanation carries a little more weight when this brachah is seen in its context, right next to the blessings "... Shelo Asani Goy" and "... Shelo Asani Aved" (... Who Did Not Make Me a Non-Jew, ... Who Did Not Make Me a Slave). Non-Jews are assigned only basic ethical obligations under Jewish law, and slaves are exempt from a range of obligations also.

However, non-Orthodox versions of the liturgy are not satisfied with this, or the egocentric tone of the other two blessing mentioned above. As women are generally considered to be under equal obligation outside of Orthodoxy, the first blessing was certainly inappropriate. Some liturgies omit these three blessings (e.g. the British Reform and Liberal movements') and some adapt them. The American Conservative and Reconstructionist siddurim (prayer books) give them as:

"... She'asani B'Tzalmo" "... Who Created Me in His Image" (A reference to Genesis 1:27)
"... She'asani Yisrael" "... Who Created Me as a Jew"
"... She'asani Ben-Khorin" "... Who Created Me Free"

The Israeli Masorti (Conservative) siddur gives the bracha that women say in the traditional liturgy ("... According to His Will") as a replacement for all three - along with an explanation that the others should be assumed to be included in this, and so new blessings need not be added.

Finally, a two very curious discoveries are of interest here. There is a 15-16th Century siddur for women, which is now in the Roth collection at the library of the University of Leeds. It is written in a dialect of Provençal in Hebrew characters and Hebrew, and uniquely contains the blessing "... Shelo Asani Ish" - "... Who Did Not Make Me a Man". Also, an Italian siddur from 1471 contains the blessing "... Sheasani Isha ve'lo Ish" - "... Who Made Me a Woman and Not a Man". The original of this last siddur can be seen online at

Siddur Yitzchak Yair Hashalem (Orthodox, Artscroll)
Siddur Sim Shalom (Conservative)
Forms of Prayer (UK Reform)
Siddur Kol Haneshama (Reconstructionist)
Siddur Lev Chadash (UK Liberal)
(all English translations are my own)

If anyone finds a different rendition of these brachot, I'd be grateful to know and add them.

Thanks to arieh for noticing the relationship between the "other two" brachot and obligations.

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